The Balancing Act
Well, I had a feeling this would happen. I talk about wanting to start a blog for a year. I have a season of calm long enough to actually start that blog. Things stir up into another tornado of insanity and the blog is pushed to the side. It’s been a minute, and I haven’t forgotten, I’ve just…been detained...by a busy toddler, a 5 month old, some fun design projects, and a sweet little shop - oh how grateful I am to have these time and energy consuming gifts in my life, but WOW, I just need to sit down for a second. I’ve longed for this moment. A quiet few hours at home while the babies nap, coffee in hand, and a brief moment to write my heart out.
All these rearranged agendas, growing to-do lists, and the ever increasing level of responsibility has me thinking: How do we best balance it all? There isn’t one thing on my plate I would want to remove. I’ve prayed long and hard for so many of these responsibilities to be a part of my life, but how do I do them ALL with excellence, dedication, and heart?
I know I’m not the only one who longs to have greater skill in the balancing act. I want to be a great mom AND business owner. I want to be involved in my church, community, AND social spheres. I want to travel and experience other cultures AND invest and get plugged in to my hometown however I can. Why can’t I put in a long day of work AND come home to a clean home and have dinner ready and and and…Does anyone else long for this skill?
I’ve never known humanity to be as busy as we are now. I can really appreciate that so many people are pursuing their dreams and taking control of their futures and working hard to see those dreams become a reality. I’ve never personally known as many young business owners as I do today. So many of my friends are becoming parents on top of having a full career. Many people I know are going to school and getting impressive degrees. I’m proud of my friends and family who haven’t been afraid to step out in faith and work for the life they’ve always dreamed of. It’s a wonderful thing to watch, but I know for myself how easily I get “dream focused” to the point that many other aspects of my life start to get drowned out, neglected, and unbalanced. I can get laser focused on certain items and completely neglect other important things. At times, I feel like my to-do list is swallowing me alive. I can feel like it’s controlling me and I’m not controlling it. I’m not really good at saying no. I often feel guilty those weeks where I saw the face of my computer more than the faces of my kids. We’ve always been taught that you have to work hard to get what you want out of life, you have to be willing to put in long hours, study hard, wake up early, and stay late. Though this is true, I’m learning that if I want to be truly effective and do it all with precision and keep my joy and peace while doing it, I have to master the balancing act. I find myself needing to say this out loud to myself often: "this is a balancing act.” I’m picturing a scale that’s teetering back and forth. To get the scale to steady and be still, one side will have to lose something or one side will need something added to it to maintain balance.
I’m optimistic about something that may cause some of you to roll your eyes. I believe you can have it all. Maybe not all a the same time as Oprah famously stated. Maybe it doesn’t happen for a long time and not how you thought it would happen. But I do believe you can have what you work for. However, I also believe that you can lose more than you thought possible because of a lack of wisdom, rest, restraint, and balance.
As one who has overcommitted, disappointed, and over extended myself to my detriment at times, I’ve learned a few things. And as a lover of lists, I thought I’d share some practical and emotional practices that I’m still learning to implement in my life. These few things have have proven to really help me. I pray these ideas help you and your family live a more balanced and powerful life.
1. Meal plan
This very practical, simple step has saved our family an incredible amount of time and late night frustration. After a long day of work, we’d come home starving, and then with what little brain power we had left, we’d try to think up something nutritious, delicious, and creative to eat. We had to resort to cereal for dinner more times than I can count. We’re just too tired or we actually have nothing else to eat because we didn’t work grocery shopping into the weekly plan. Meal planning is such a simple and practical way to be on top of your daily responsibilities. It’s healthier, it keeps the peace, and removes one more time-consuming thing from your daily to-do list. Put in a weekly planning session with your partner, or sit down by yourself and come up with 5 simple meals. Put the grocery list together and go to the store. Find easy and fast recipes with combined prep and cook time taking no more than an hr. Invest in a crock pot and throw all the ingredients in before you leave for work and come home to a completed meal. Keep your pantry stocked with items that have a long shelf life (such as canned beans, noodles, canned veggies, frozen meats, fruits and veggies) and meals that you can whip together on the fly. Chili, spaghetti with lots of veggies, and baked chicken with a veggie on the side are three easy meals that we always have the ingredients for and take little time to prep. I have a friend who’s a single working mom. She takes one day a year and makes several different kinds of soup and freezes them for those hectic days where she’d be too busy to plan for dinner. Simply throw a container of frozen soup in the microwave and dinner is served. Genius.
2. Prep as much as you can the night before
I don’t consider myself a morning person. I don’t hate being awake early, but I don’t think I’m particularly sharp or pumped about life when I first wake up. That’s why I do as much as I can the night before so I don’t have to rely on my foggy morning brain to make decisions. And it saves an incredible amount of time. I set out my outfit for the next day, even if its just my dingy work clothes that I paint in. I’ll lay out clothes for my girls and we can be out the door quickly every morning. Make your lunch the night before and have it bagged and ready. If you have arm loads of things to take to work with you every day for work like me - consider loading the car the night before and save yourself a few trips back and forth to the car in the morning. Simple, but really helpful for starting your day off with a leg up.
3. Simplify your morning routine
In addition to having clothes laid out, I mentally list what’s for breakfast and set out a clean bottle for the baby. But then there’s the whole hair and makeup circus act that takes place before work. Simply put, I rely on a basic ponytail or braid, or on really tricky hair days, a hat. On weeks that I need to look a little more presentable, Ill wash and style my hair and maintain that look for a few days with dry shampoo and hairspray. My makeup routine is done in 5 mins flat. A light cover up. Waterproof mascara. Bronzer. Lip color. My favorite easy to use cover up is Neutrogena Healthy Skin Liquid Makeup. It’s light, has great coverage, it lasts all day, and bonus - it has SPF 20. You can find it HERE. My go to mascara has been saving me from end of the day raccoon eyes since 2016. I love love love Better Than Sex Waterproof mascara by Too Faced. I’ve always needed waterproof since my eyes water easily, and…does anyone else sweat more after having kids? Sheesh. I do. But this stuff doesn’t budge. Check it out HERE. My all-time favorite, long lasting, inexpensive lip color is Revlon Color Stay Ultimate. I have just about every color, and it truly lasts most of the day through talking, eating, and multiple cups of coffee. Check it out HERE.
4. Work hard/Play Hard
A constant temptation in our household is to keep working after we’ve come home from work. We joke about how a “fun night in” consists of cozying up on the couch, letting netflix play softly in the background as we continue working from our computers. Precious, I know. But we’ve had to correct ourselves and be diligent to remember, “this is all a balancing act.” If we’re not careful and aware, our girls will grow up in the blink of an eye and we could miss it if we don’t stay balanced and learn to focus and learn to shut off work when we’re with our kids. There will never be a shortage of 10,000 things to do - so we have to just decide to turn the work off and come back to it later. When you’re at work, dig in, focus, and get things done. When you’re with family, put the work away, dig in, focus, and be present with your family. As business owners, Nick and I don’t have typical work schedules. Every week and every day is different than the next, and many of our evenings are often spoken for even after putting in a long work day. When most moms and dads have “clocked out” for the day, work stays at work and they’ll come back to it the next day. This is not the case for either of us. Whether we want it to or not, work often comes home with us. As a business owner, sometimes you don’t have a choice. If something breaks or goes wrong, it’s our responsibility to fix it. If we want our businesses to grow, it’s up to us to wake up early and stay late to make progress happen. If a member of our staff team needs something work related, we have to be available. So, we’ve started implementing family day Fridays. This is when the weekend starts for us. Friday - Sunday is for our family. We’re treating ourselves to an extra long weekend to be with each other and our girls. So, Monday through Thursday, we recite to ourselves, work hard, get things done now so we can be fully present with each other over the weekend. We allow each other to work longer days Monday through Thursday because we know we’re going to unplug and play hard Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We take the weekend to just play, go for walks, work on house projects, catch up on laundry and just be together. It keeps us centered and connected. This is what works for our family. Come up with a daily time frame or a whole day to be with your loved ones. Set that time aside and be committed to it.
6. Be honest about what’s really eating your time
As parents, and as keepers of so many valuable, precious things on our plates, our “yes’s” and “no’s” carry much more weight now. Whatever I’m saying yes to ultimately has me saying no to something else. When I say yes to an hour scrolling through instagram in the evening, that’s an hour I’m saying no to meaningful interactions with my family. Have you ever checked your activity on Instagram to see how many minutes a day you spend on the site? It may be alarming to some to see how much of their day is spent scrolling through other peoples’ lives instead of living their own. How much TV do we watch everyday? I love a good Netflix series as much as the next person, but what if we tallied up each and every hour we spent in front of the tv? Am I saying to quit screens altogether? No. But let’s be aware, not unaware, of what’s actually eating our time. After we’ve become aware of where our time is spent, can we honestly use the line “I just don’t have time to ____”. Screens have not only hooked us for an easy escape from reality through social media and Netflix, but screens make it so easy to never stop working too. Screens can offer a tremendous blessing and sneaky curse. Computers, tablets, phones, TV. The world is at our finger tips, but what is slipping out of our hands in it’s place? This is what I think about often…not only can screens profoundly and detrimentally affect our children (Read this article for a little more info on the matter), but I fear that as my children grow, their memories of their mother will be of her glued to her phone. When they think of their mom, will their thoughts be filled with images of me in front of my computer with a blank stare or a fierce “I have to get this work done” look? I’ve been forced to be really honest about time eating practices. Or, unnecessary uses of time. Before starting a task, stop and ask yourself, what’s the most efficient way I can go about this? Instead of slaving in the kitchen on tricky time consuming meals, are there some new recipes I can try that will buy me another hour to relax with my family before bedtime? When running errands, is there an order in which I can do these tasks that will ultimately save me time or am I just driving around without a plan? Every week I run errands for the business. I’ve learned what stores carry which items I need. I used to hit about 5 stores to grab what I needed. It took hours of my day. Then I realized I can actually get everything I need in about 2 stops. Why was I wasting so much time driving all over creation needlessly? Just a bad habit as it turned out.
7. Loosen your grip
Growing up, my pastor always taught about the “5 P’s”. Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. Words of wisdom - and so so true! Make your plans, make lists, set goals, be responsible. But something that seems to trip me up and can at times even cause me to lose sleep - when my goals aren’t met. When my plan fails. When Family Friday doesn’t happen because I over extended myself again and couldn't say no. If you’re like me, you might find yourself with a death grip on your “plans” and when it doesn’t pan out the way you thought it should, you’re really hard on yourself. And like me, maybe you’ve even found your identity wrapped up in the plan you’ve made for yourself. Maybe your worth follows your accomplishments closely. “If I’m not superwoman, I’m a nobody.” We hold tight to this image of who we think we need to be. After all, when it’s so easy to view other people leading their seemingly perfect lives on social media, who wouldn’t start to feel insecure about their own accomplishments? What lofty plans have you bound yourself to? Maybe it’s to be a homemaker with the perfect home. A mom who has it altogether - which includes her children, career, and relationships. A woman who not only masters “a full plate,” but is mastering the full dinner set. The comparison game is a dirty and deceiving one. I’ve been caught in this trap. I’ve exhausted myself trying to maintain a superwoman image because that was the plan I made for myself - superwoman or nothing. I’ll tell you honestly though, I very rarely feel like I have it all together. My plan OFTEN goes in a different direction. But what I’m learning is this: Isaiah 55:8-9 talks about God’s ways. It says:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Maybe it’s ok when our plans don’t pan out. Maybe you’re not who YOU designed yourself to be. Maybe God is doing something BETTER than your plan. Maybe your business hasn’t grown the way you thought it would. Maybe you’re not where you thought you’d be at this age. Maybe you’re not married yet and you really want to be. Maybe you’re waiting to be a parent but it’s just taking so long. My very wise husband often says “Make your plans, but give God editing rights.” Because after all, His ways are higher than ours. His thoughts for you are good and better than anyone else’s thoughts for you. Loosen your grip, don’t be discouraged, and trust God’s plan and never-ending goodness.
8. Never lose your gratitude.
This is the greatest way to bring health, joy and balance to your life and family. Maybe I’m an optimistic and very naive girl - but I do believe you can have it all. The family, job, and home you always dreamed and prayed for. I’m a blessed girl, but I’ve seen in my own life how quickly I can lose my gratitude for these gifts. Quoting my pastor again, he would always say, “the doors of life swing on the hinges of gratitude”. Your joy, energy, optimism, and passion resurges as you stir up thankfulness for all that you already have. It fuels you to work hard, and it stills you to be able to rest with those you love most. Maybe you’re not where you want to be yet. That’s ok. I think few of us actually feel like we’ve “arrived”. There is so much to be grateful for in the journey today, though. That gratitude will surely fuel you to get you there. Or, once you’ve found yourself firmly planted in a deliberate life of choosing gratitude, you may surprise yourself by realizing you already have so much and have already come so far. If you throw every other point out from this blog post, please don’t lose this last one. Hold tight to gratitude, choose it every single day, and watch your whole life change.
Thank you for reading this lengthy, heartfelt post today.
Come back again next time for more Aviator Jayne ideas and inspiration!